Story By: Ulster Gazette Thursday, 24 March 2016
THE Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) has launched three new Emergency Flood Response Teams for Northern Ireland, one of which will be based in Armagh.
The new teams, with specially trained personnel, will provide an emergency response to serious widespread flooding incidents and will work alongside partner agencies to ensure a co-ordinated response to such incidents.
The teams will be based at Omagh, Armagh and Belfast’s Westland Road Fire Stations and will be deployed not just in the immediate area but across Northern Ireland.
Sixty firefighters have received extensive training in enhanced flood rescue techniques and will complement existing flood response teams in Londonderry and Belfast. The enhanced capability will ensure that NIFRS is best placed to meet its statutory duties in relation to a range of specialist water rescue and flooding emergencies.
Alan Walmsley, Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service explains: “Over the past four years flooding has become a serious issue.
“From 2012 NIFRS has responded to over 1,300 calls relating to flooding and carried out 166 flood rescues across Northern Ireland.
“As a Fire & Rescue Service we have a statutory responsibility to protect the public from flooding incidents.
“The addition of three new emergency flood response teams complements our current capability and ensures that we are better prepared than ever to meet these responsibilities.
“The location of the teams in Omagh, Armagh and Belfast – all areas which are at risk from flooding – means we can provide a more efficient and effective emergency response in the immediate area.
“Our enhanced flood response teams are now geographically spread enabling us to provide a more resilient 24/7 emergency response right across Northern Ireland.
Mark Deeney, Western Area Commander and Lead Officer for Flood Rescue, added: “The expansion of NIFRS flood response capability means that we are better placed to respond to serious flooding events, either through pre-deployment, where we have advanced warning, or reactively where no warning exists.
“Personnel are specially trained to very high standards in line with UK national best practice as detailed in the DEFRA Concept of Flood Operations document and through the adoption of National Operational Guidance.
“This means that we now have a wide range of skills including the abilities to perform shore based rescues, swimming rescues and rescues using powered and non-powered boats.
“Personnel are also equipped with specialist Personal Protective Equipment to ensure the highest possible standards of Firefighter and public safety.”
The new Emergency Flood Response Teams are operational with immediate effect.